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Illuminated stones from inside Cairn T and Cairn L

Is this an ancient star map??

The wonderful ceiling stone of the end recess of Cairn T. The plethora of carvings give one the impression that the stone is supposed to serve as some kind of star map or astral guide. This stone is illuminated during sunrise at Spring Equinox. It is located directly above the 'Equinox Stone', pictured below.

The 'Equinox Stone' (above) with its wonderful markings. In Spring of 1980, Martin Brennan and Jack Roberts discovered that at dawn on the Spring Equinox, a sunbeam enters the chamber of Cairn T and strikes this stone, first illuminating the large 'sunwheel' at top left before moving slowly down towards the large sunwheel to the centre right of the stone (illustrated on right).

Brennan says: "The symbols on stone 14 may now be interpreted as the language of unknown archaic astronomers. The beam of light from the rising sun at equinox moves down the stone, illuminating key symbols as it progresses."

On left is Stone 8, just inside the chamber to the left of the passage looking out. The right edge of this stone, according to Brennan, models the projected beam of light in the chamber. The designs include concentric circles and arcs, a waved line (with a count of 9), a spiral, dots, grooves and other markings. In this photograph, taken during September 2001, we used small torches to 'paint' the stone, and bathe it in a lovely glowing light. This is the best way to accentuate the markings on the stones.

The equinox beam plotted by Martin Brennan

Cairn T holds a special significance in relation to Newgrange - it may have once been covered with milky white quartz, the same stone which was used on the facade at Newgrange. According to Jean McMann (Loughcrew - the Cairns), "until a few years ago, large pieces of quartz could be found behind the kerbstones and around the entry. Conwell also reported small lumps of quartz "strewn about" at the base of the Hag's Chair."

Stone 8 is just one of many decorated stones in Cairn T.

Stone 5, in the passage of Cairn T, viewed from inside the chamber.The abundant number of holes in this stone give the impression of some kind of star map. The stone facing it in the passage, R5, also contains a plethora of small round holes.

Samhain sunlight in Cairn L - Click on image to go to the Sacred Island website
This wonderful photo, from the Sacred Island website, shows sunlight penetrating the chamber at Cairn L, on Carnbane West in Loughcrew, on Samhain (Nov. 8th). Cairn L is one of the more unusual chambered cairns in Ireland, having a complex plan and internal standing stone. Photo iscopyright of Martin Byrne, 1996, and must not be copied or reproduced in any form without his prior permission.

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All information and photos, except where otherwise stated, copyright, © Anthony Murphy, 1999-2015
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